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REVIEW: Global Roots presents Owiny Sigoma Band

REVIEW: Global Roots presents Owiny Sigoma Band
Rhemayo Brooks

Review Overview



After all the excitement that surrounded it, the inaugural Global Roots’ showcase had a lot to live up to. Events as widely publicised as these are always at risk of failing to fulfil the snowballed anticipation surrounding them, but thankfully that wasn’t the case with this particular night.

First thing on the agenda of “things upon which I shall ladle lavish praise” is the choice of venue, Village Underground. To be honest, it’s hard to imagine a better suited venue for an evening of such diverse performance, from the pulsating, looping and modular sounds of Auntie Flo, the live exuberance of Owiny Sigoma themselves, through to the musical variance of curator, Thris Tian, Blackfoot Phoenix and, Special “but you could have probably guessed it” guest, Gilles Peterson. It’s cavernous nature and exposed masonry gave more of an earthly feel over other, contemporary East London venues (Oval Space for instance). Furthermore, the muffled reverb of such a yawning space, gave the rhythmic beats and drums a much warmer feel, rounding their edges but not dampening their impact.

“Sometimes, midweek events such as these, seem to loose some of their soul, as the crowd is split between those who have genuinely pursued an avenue of specific, musical choice and others who have ‘f*ck all on tomorrow’.”

One great thing about the night that really struck me, was the feeling of togetherness and common enjoyment, which endured till the end. It was obvious that people had come to enjoy an expanse of music that went far beyond the 4×4 that gets spilled out every weekend by any old MacBook DJ. Sometimes, midweek events such as these, seem to loose some of their soul, as the crowd is split between those who have genuinely pursued an avenue of specific, musical choice and others who have ‘f*ck all on tomorrow’. Nevertheless, this time everybody came together to take full advantage of what was an excellent showcase, and if you weren’t already intrigued by a diverse range of African and Latin musical movements, you’d soon be on YouTube trawling through the back-catalogues of Brownswood and Soundway Records.

The Glaswegian Auntie Flo’s set was bounding in its bare-faced and, somewhat, cheeky fusion. With strains of African percussion, Indian flavours and an unmistakable nod in the direction of the UK funky sound, instead of playing to your crowd, the rule here is to present them with an aural smorgasbord and let them dance. With Esa adding his distinctive drumming to the live cutting and looping of 808 patterns and piccato synths, all those who thought they would tank up at the bar before the main event found themselves getting down on the dance-floor.

Gilles Peterson played through the interludes. – Musical royalty playing filler? I wasn’t going to argue as I unashamedly jumped around to the rhythm and sounds of Daphnii, Francis Bebey and Owiny Sigoma themselves. Such was its effect, when the headline band finally took to the stage, we were well and truly warmed up.

Having accepted their introduction from one of the most distinctive voices in the industry (Boiler Room and NTS’s Thristian), the band quickly began to show why they are one of the most talked about collectives of the moment. It was obvious they had spent a lot more time playing together of late. The cohesion of their sound, as well as the ease and professionalism with which they switched from song to song, showed a maturity in their dexterity.

Sometimes, when listening to songs such as Harpoon Land or Owiny Techno, on your own, you come to wonder if such evolutionary sounds are able to transcend through to the club or live forums. Now I have my answer, and I wonder why I ever doubted otherwise. Everybody’s hands were up and hips jiggling down. Acid baselines, winding African guitar licks, wrapped up in spacey electronic textures. Nyamungu preaches his Nairobi Gospel whilst Jesse Hackett sings a more soulful song. Truly an excellent show! Peterson, was able to stand at the back, surveying another of his Brownswood projects rise to maturity.

Global Roots presents Owiny Sigoma Band

“Once again I was transported through a cultured landscape in the familiar 4×4 vehicle.”

From here on in the night became much more of a standard fair. With Thris Tian, not only selecting and matching his way through a raft of incendiary riddims, but also toasting the finest, with his ubiquitous style. It had been a while since I last saw him play, but once again I was transported through a cultured landscape in the familiar 4×4 vehicle. Traversing over foreign terrain, whether syncopated Samba beats under a throbbing acid lead, or the rarest of rare grooves, mixed into contemporary edits, he handled and delivered with mastery and ease.

As time went on and it was continually announced that the night would go on later and later – now set to finish at 1am, Gilles Peterson returned to supply more of the same and Blackfoot Phoenix graced us with their stomping delivery. Of course as the evening went on and people became more exuberant with the drink, the vibe became more thrusting and batty-bouncing than hands-in-the-air appreciation. I was OK with this!

I can say that by this time the rums, whiskeys and beers had taken their toll and I was winding down with the best of them, so I say my thanks and sign off here. Many thanks go out to Thris Tian for curating and accommodating us at such an enjoyable night. Big ups to Bub, Nick and Adam, who joined me on the dance floor. Listen out for Thris Tian’s Dark’n’Lovely show on NTS radio, Sundays 8-10pm, for more of the same vibes you can enjoy in your living room. And keep an eye and an ear out for the second instalment of his second Global roots showcase.